Rooney leads the way as England hit Andorra for six

England 6 Andorra 0
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The Independent Football

Wayne Rooney and Jermain Defoe both scored twice as England gave 58,000 fans, who refused to be beaten by a London travel nightmare, ample reward for their defiance with their biggest win in a competitive game since 1999.

Anything other than victory over an Andorra side ranked 198 in the world was never seriously considered.

Now though, after hitting their part-time opponents for six at Wembley, just as they did against Luxembourg a decade ago, the Three Lions know a win against Croatia on September 9 will seal a place at next year's World Cup with two games to spare.

And if England make it, Fabio Capello will want Rooney in the same form as he has showed this season, his latest brace enough for him to streak clear in the World Cup qualifying sharp-shooters table with eight goals.

Frank Lampard's effort was sandwiched in between and half-time substitute Defoe scored twice in as many minutes before Peter Crouch netted his 14th goal in 16 international starts to take England's overall tally to 26.

Defoe could be particularly pleased with his cameo, Rooney was the name on supporters lips as they began a journey home somewhat more testing than anything Andorra provided for their team.

In a bid to get the most out of Rooney, Capello came up with a rather simplistic hint for the Manchester United striker, get in front of the goal.

While it would be slightly silly to offer Sir Alex Ferguson any advice, given the wider role he was given at Old Trafford, Capello's way is better.

Certainly the statistics, eight goals in seven World Cup matches compared to 12 in an entire Premier League season, seem to bear that theory out.

And, with possibly both Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo heading out of the Red Devils camp this summer, Ferguson might have to rejig his forward line anyway.

It must have been particularly gratifying for the Italian to see Rooney drill home a couple of close-range efforts before the interval as England disposed of their part-time opponents with the minimum of fuss.

Indeed, there seems to be a touch of genius about Capello's entire management strategy given England are now consistently delivering performances of such assurity - a bad 35 minutes in Kazakhstan apart - it is difficult to believe they failed to score in the first-half of their last meeting with Andorra in September.

There was never any chance of such a stalemate this time around.

Quite conceivably, Rooney could have been celebrating his hat-trick when Glen Johnson picked him out with a deep cross that, unmarked, the forward had little trouble finding the net with.

As they were only at the four minute stage, it just about said it all about the one-sided nature of what passed for a contest.

A smart turn onto Steven Gerrard's pass created Rooney's first opening, a deft chip that Koldo Alvarez did well to touch over the bar. The second was a more instinctive header that crashed back off the crossbar after Alvarez had denied Theo Walcott.

Peter Crouch and Gerrard might have scored in a little flurry around the 10 minute mark but England were made to wait almost until the half hour before finding the net again, Frank Lampard powerfully drilling home Walcott's cutback.

Johnson was the provider for a momentous goal for Rooney, which allowed him to draw level with Sir Geoff Hurst as England's 12th highest scorer on 24.

For the record, Rooney also equalled Gary Lineker's record for the most goals in a single international season, 10.

As Rooney notoriously hates missing any football, he might not have taken his interval substitution too well, particularly as the opposition suggested a first England hat-trick was on the cards.

However, in replacing both Rooney and Gerrard with Defoe and Ashley Young, Capello was able to have a decent look at a couple of the fringe players who hope to be on the flight to South Africa in 12 months' time.

Defoe took his chance well scoring twice, Johnson setting up the first to take his number of assists to three, in a similar manner to Rooney before Crouch tapped home after a woeful mistake from Alvarez.

Capello will realise his team must overcome far stiffer tests if they are to emulate the 1966 heroes who got long overdue medals to mark their achievement.

But the signs are undeniably positive. And, one senses, in his own understated way, the Italian knows it.